Aberdeen Improving Bike Trail; How About 6th Avenue Overpass and Northeast Connector?

Uh oh—my spin around the Hub City finds the end of the Moccasin Creek Trail at Melgaard Road all torn up:

Looking north along Moccasin Creek Trail at Melgaard Road, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 2015.08.30.
Looking north along Moccasin Creek Trail at Melgaard Road, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 2015.08.30.

But wait: this is good news! Aberdeen is putting a curb cut-out here, so riders can smoothly merge onto Melgaard’s nice wide shoulder.

Better yet, this intersection is no longer the end of the trail. Check out the south side of the street:

Access to Kuhnert Arboretum trail at Melgaard Road and Dakota Street, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 2015.08.30.
Access to new Kuhnert Arboretum trail at Melgaard Road and Dakota Street, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 2015.08.30.

Whoo-hoo! More trail, curving gracefully through the Kuhnert Arboretum! Well done, Aberdeen! Pour that concrete, and let’s ride—oh! And don’t forget to install a pedestrian-controlled crossing light on Melgaard!

With these curb cuts and extra asphalt taken care of, Aberdeen can now turn to other improvements to its admirable bicycle infrastructure. I suggest two priorities. First, connect the two lengths of the Moccasin Creek Trail with a bicycle overpass over the treacherously busy Sixth Avenue SE:

Rough sketch of a future Moccasin Creek bicycle overpass over Sixth Avenue SE, Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Rough sketch of a future Moccasin Creek bicycle overpass over Sixth Avenue SE, Aberdeen, South Dakota.

A similar bridge can be placed across Third Avenue SE, where cyclists must currently execute a tricky hairpin turn on a narrow sidewalk, which a bicycle pulling a kiddie trailer cannot easily execute.

Second, let’s connect the Moccasin Creek Trail with the Browne–Baird stretch of the Ordway Trail. Heading north, the Moccasin Creek Trail currently ends at First Avenue SE, just before reaching the rail line. Riders, runners, and walkers seeking more relaxing off-street trail must get on First and travel 1.2 miles on street, west to Dakota, then north over the railroad crossing, then east to Browne Park. I say let cyclists and pedestrians cross the rail line and follow a mile and a half off-street path through mostly undeveloped land up to the Ordway Trail footbridge north of 15th Avenue North.

Proposed Northeast Connector joining Moccasin Creek and Ordway trails, Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Proposed Northeast Connector joining Moccasin Creek and Ordway trails, Aberdeen, South Dakota

The Northeast Connector would cross two streets and two rail lines. The rail crossings are a minor engineering issue, with an example of a simple crossing right behind Simmons Elementary on South Fifth Street. Via this connector, Aberdonians could travel the full north–south length of the city entirely off-street, a wonderfully safe opportunity for family recreation.


6 Responses to Aberdeen Improving Bike Trail; How About 6th Avenue Overpass and Northeast Connector?

  1. Mrs. Nelson

    I like your ideas but I think the city will tell you they’re illusions of grandeur! I would like to see some type of overpass on 6th Ave. I really hate jaywalkers and bikers alike popping out to navigate the traffic. But again, a truck bypass, like you have suggested before, would alleviate some of the semi congestion on 6th.

  2. Let’s do ’em both, Mrs. Nelson, bypass and overpass!

    And illusions/delusions of grandeur? Ha! If this city can build something like Storybook Land, complete with a beanstalk, castle, and roller coaster, a simple bike bridge and an additional mile and a half of asphalt are far from grand delusions. :-)

  3. Aberdeenites, do not waste your scarce tax dollars on the folly of a few bikers who do not pay taxes for roads.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir

    It looks like a good plan. Best of luck with it.

  5. Douglas Wiken

    Getting more people on bicycles or walking will require elevated routes. Every person on such an overhead route would be a vehicle off the streets. Make walking and bicycle riding or small electric vehicle use attractive and they will be used. Aberdeen and Rapid City both could become world-famous for such progress.

  6. Grudz, we pay taxes on our cars and the gasoline we put in them. We also pay sales tax on our granola bars. If funding for infrastructure falls short, let’s change the funding formula. But let’s not play us-vs.-them and deprive ourselves of useful public goods.

    Doug, how about an elevated track in Rapid City connecting Dinosaur Park and Hanson-Larsen Park? or maybe just a zip line?